Technology woes

July 28, 2005, 8:25 AM

As an ex-Microsoft employee, I'm by no means easily discouraged by technological irritations. Of course, I do tend to scream and yell at my machines when they give me trouble, just like anyone else (it's not just me, is it, Doctor?). But it seems to me that when I have one small computer or cell phone problem, I have an unfortunate streak. Usually one problem coincides with another which coincides with yet another.

Recently, for the second time, my cell phone seemed to take a disliking to the manufacturer's power chargers, and the only way I can get my cell phone charged up is by connecting the data cable to my notebook's USB port. That's a minor inconvenience, and I can live with it. It just happened a couple of weeks ago and I kind of live on my cell phone these days, so I didn't want to send it in for repair.

I have another desktop machine, which is essentially a salvaged 5 year old PC with a newer processor, motherboard, and DVD-RW. It has an NTFS based file system. I never quite got this machine fully optimal, but I do use it at my office for basic tasks, or when I forget to bring my laptop to work. I was finally installing Service Pack 2 late last week on my office desktop machine, and some file permissions-related problem caused the install to fail. I didn't investigate, but I just allowed the machine to reboot. It turns out it didn't quite successfully uninstall the partial update, and my whole installation was hosed.

Then, Monday night, my laptop had a familiar problem, now out of warranty: the power clip on the motherboard seemed to misbehave, and I couldn't get it to charge the battery or sustain a power connection. This has happened before a couple of times. Apparently I have to be super-careful to make sure the AC Adapter Plug never gets jiggled or plugged in too casually, because it seems to be very easy to damage. When such a problem occurs, the whole motherboard gets replaced.

So by Tuesday, I had trouble with absolutely every essential piece of electronics in my life. It took me hours to recover my office desktop configuration, but it's now functional enough to be used for real work, including printing shipping labels and so on. So I'm up to speed again, but I wasted a lot of time, and now a substantial amount of money because of the laptop repair.